So we already told you that Google just pushed out a pre-release version of its upcoming Chrome 8 browser to its developer channel, but what does that even mean? Do you have to be a developer to use it? And how does that differ from Google's beta channel?
Let's answer those questions by having a look at the various channels, including Chrome's relatively new Canary channel, which offers all the fun without the risk.
However, the latest Dev channel release, version 7.0.536.2, is a lot different and boasts a large number of enhancements, including built-in Google Instant search results, WebGL 3D support, and support for accelerated composting and 3D CSS transforms. The release also addresses a number of issues with previous versions.
“A lot of the work that's being done in 7.0 is largely not user facing and in some cases is a legitimate work in progress. With our new release cycle and about:labs, I'd suggest you stay tuned, things are going to start moving quite fast,” Anthony Laforge, Google Chrome product manager, told unimpressed comment posters on the Google Chrome Releases blog.
With Microsoft releasing the first Internet Explorer (IE) 9 beta yesterday, the spotlight is squarely on Internet Explorer. Hardware acceleration is among the several advancements that IE 9 boasts over its predecessors. It is something that Google's Chrome does not currently have. Thankfully for Chrome users, they will not have to wait too long for hardware-accelerated graphics to show up in their favorite browser.
The latest Chromium “trunk” and Chrome “canary” builds already feature some of the relevant enhancements. Hardware acceleration will be part of the next major release of the browser, Chrome 7, which is just round the corner.
“2D canvas acceleration is now available in trunk and the canary build by using the --enable-accelerated-2d-canvas command-line switch (coming to the developer channel shortly).We’ve also been hard at work improving our 3D graphics stack,” Google said in a recent blog post.
According to James Robinson, a software engineer at Google, “Chromium already achieves some impressive gains on the recent IE9 Platform Preview Test Drive 2D canvas demo,” with initial results suggesting up to 60x speed improvement over previous Chrome versions.